The crisis inaugurated last week by Georgian president Saakachvili, now resulting in Moscow making a run for the first time since the fall of the Berlin Wall, is a major turning point. It is the first visible sign of the collapse of the "Dollar Wall" which used to protect the US might since 1945; a Wall whose perimeter had significantly grown since the fall of the « Berlin Wall » (which used to protect the ex-USSR).
The clear political mistake committed by president Saakachvili (which, far from securing him any control over dissident South Ossetia, results in Georgia's further division – as it did with Serbia and Kosovo), is not due to him alone. It is the most obvious result of a process started at the end of the 1990's whose master minds were Saakachvili's sponsors – the United States, Israel , the United Kingdom, and to a lesser extent the European Union. This process developped under the following features: arrogance, short-sightedness, self-persuasion, stupidity... In any event, it is certain that it led politicians such as Saakachvili and his little brothers in Ukraine and other regions of ex-USSR to believe that the wind of History (with a capital « H ») blew in their direction from then on, that their dreams could turn into reality, that the will of today's powers determined the future, that geography and history no longer mattered, that the Dollar's corrupting might - if poured in sufficient quantities - could transform reality,... But something else is now certain: today's reaction from Moscow, combined to the obvious paralysis on the part of Washington, Tel Aviv, London or Brussels, puts a sharp end to all these illusional beliefs, chanted on and on in Transatlantic and Euroasian conferences and seminars.
Saakachvili is nothing but a second-class autocrat
Far from being a bright politician, Saakachvili is a second-class autocrat, made up by Washington and Tel Aviv, who thought his destiny was a highway designed by his American, Israeli and British allies, and encouraged by the technocrats of Brussels and a bunch of politicians of the same feather in Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic states. His central mistake lied in the fact that he trusted their common illusions that Caucasus had a European vocation (to joining the EU), that Georgia had a North-Atlantic vocation (to joining NATO),... while the big interest in fact at play was oil... and the only assets, the weakness of Russia and the rain of dollars poured over the region.
In Washington, Brussels, London... I crossed the road of many Saakachvili's .. in their thirties or fourties, US-trained, long-teethed wolves fascinated by politics to make a carrier, ready to « make History » as long as History is flexible and obedient. Disregarding signals sent out by many continental Europeans that their dreams were disconnected from any reality, they relied on promises made by the Americanists, those architects of the myth of an irresistible West and of an ever-expanding EU. But, as we say in French, « the advisers are not the payers »... as the new Member-States already realised when London (their greatest sponsor into the EU) refused to pay for their accession.
Russia is back as a geopolitical player on all its borders
However the Georgian crisis largely overlapses the case of Caucasus and its various local Washingtonian puppets. Indeed, Moscow's reaction confirms the fact that Russia is back as a geopoliticalplayer on all its borders. For the first time since 1989, a « Western » pawn – in fact a US pawn - is defeated in this crisis. The fact that a number of EU members refused to make any promise on Georgia's accession to NATO has indeed sealed the current crisis in a way that dooms to failure the US attempt to settle durably in Caucasus; as well as it prevented our countries from getting militarily involved in what would have been a suicidal adventure. This crisis therefore provides another illustration of the profound divisions growing inside NATO between Washington, London and mostly Poland and the Baltic states on the one hand, and the rest of continental EU on the other hand, as to which posture to adopt with regards to Russia. Georgia's setback provides a clear signal in favour of the EU's majority position which would like to develop a strategic partnership with Moscow, based on trust between both entities and firmness about democratic principles, namely as regards the intermediary zone – Caucasus, Ukraine, Bielorussia.
Georgia's setback is also a setback for Washington (one more) in their tuning of actions and principles:
- President Saakachvili is an autocrat who muzzled all opposition and stayed in power by imposing a state of emergency followed by an ultra-nationalistic campaign based on the « reconquista » of lost territories. The so-called « orange revolution », much praised by the Western world, ends in tragic farce for the Georgians: war and flouted democracy.
- South Ossetians already voted, overwhelmingly asking for their secession from Georgia – when they have not already flown to Russia (in North Ossetia). It is Tblilissi and the West who refused to acknowledge their choice. There again, the US and the EU in the same move decided not to apply to Ossetia the infringement to international law they imposed in the case of Kosovo. Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero is the only who clearly said that what we did with Kosovo was illegal in terms of the international law. Double standards... knowing that we - EU, France, UK, Germany or the US - indulge ourselves in giving lessons to Russia. I wrote many times, in these columns, that we were opening a Pandora box with Kosovo. There we are now! And it is just the beginning...
But the outcome of the Georgia crisis goes beyond that. Indeed this crisis puts a final stop to the fantasies about Ukraine's EU accession. Three years ago, in Moscow, during one of our seminars gathering some fifty EU and Russia diplomats and civil servants on the future of EU-Russia relations by 2020, I asked the Polish delegation conducted by Mr Jan Truszczyński , who supported the fact that Ukraine's accession was inevitable, if they were aware that the Russian part would go to war rather than lose its Ukrainian half... and that neither the British, nor the French, nor the Germans, nor the Spanish nor any EU country (apart from the Baltic states and Poland) would lift a finger to « free » the other half. My remark resolutely froze the atmosphere on the EU side, but enabled to start a fruitful debate with the Russia part.
A pro-active diplomacy must take place in the real world, not in a world of illusions
Well, any pro-active diplomacy must set itself in the real world, not in one of illusions; or it becomes of source of conflicts. Credibility is inversely proportional to gesticulation . Trust among partners cannot build by letting one's own party talking nonsense in order to save pretends of unity. The strength of the European Union cannot be established by aligning on extremists, it will come from building solid consensuses capable of chanelling the weight of our 500 million citizens, of our myriad of NGOs, of our economic, commercial, scientific, cultural power, of our values and of our 27 diplomacies. The EU was no built to let a few demagogs get excited on the stages of Tbilissi or else. French President Sarkozy got it right when he simply contented himself to copy-pasting Moscow's demands and extending them, with some insistance, to Tbilissi. Washington's little valet knows when he must submit to the powerful, whether they are Russian or Chinese. And, in today's Caucasian game, whether we like or not, Moscow is the prevailing power again. Exit Washington, Tel Aviv, London and the Dollar!
I seize the opportunity to remind to the leaders of the Baltic states who push the EU towards a confrontation with Moscow that their accession to the EU is a direct result of Moscow's weakness at the time ... and that the preservation of their status depends on the strength of the EU... not on its agressivity, nor on its alignment with an external players such as the US, preventing it from inventing and implementing any strategic partnership with Moscow. Otherwise, between their large Russian minorities, their past integration to Russia and their undefensible strategic situation, I would not bet much on their « independent » future. And they can always wait for Washington's help or for Godot !
To recognize the real influence of Moscow, to respect our values and decide to enforce the same principles everywhere (not according to our interests), to avoid considering Caucasian countries as back-offices (of NATO, EU, Russia, Turkey, oil powers,... you name it) and choose to consider them as components of a specific region likely to either join us or become mediators with our big neighbouring regions, to consider Caucasian inhabitants as citizens sharing our aspirations to peace and prosperity, and to support their genuine (as opposed to « imported ») democratic processes, such are true ambitions at the size of the European Union.